“Why would Benjamin Franklin want to know if lightning was electricity?” elementary teachers and students making sense of the nature of science during interactive read-alouds

Abstract

The present study examines the pedagogical use of reading aloud of science trade books as an effective tool for teaching nature of science (NOS) to elementary students. To this end, we explore elementary teachers’ and students’ dialogic negotiation of NOS during interactive science read-alouds, as well as potential interactions between their sense-making patterns, NOS views, and trade-book representations of NOS. It was found that, when a book had explicit NOS aspects in it, a teacher with more informed NOS views was able to facilitate a more extended, open-ended, and inclusive discussion about NOS. Conversely, when the trade book had very explicit connections, a teacher with naïve NOS views was able to only superficially address these NOS aspects without going beyond or elaborating on the information available in the book. Furthermore, the latter discussion was characteristically close-ended, exclusive of students, and limited in sense-making. These findings underscore the need for further investigation of how particular NOS aspects are narrativized in science trade-books, and how elementary teachers can effectively guide students while facilitating explicit negotiation of particular types of trade book representations of NOS during interactive science read-alouds. It is argued that improving elementary science instruction requires a more sophisticated, theory-based understanding of how NOS instruction is mediated by stories and storytelling.

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List of trade books analyzed

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Seema Rivera.

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Rivera, S., Oliveira, A. “Why would Benjamin Franklin want to know if lightning was electricity?” elementary teachers and students making sense of the nature of science during interactive read-alouds. Cult Stud of Sci Educ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-020-09988-2

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Keywords

  • Science read-alouds
  • Elementary science
  • Teacher-led discussions
  • Dialogic sense-making